Previous Company Opposition Now Turns to Support but Next Steps for Curbing Deforestation Still Unclear
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Boston, May 4, 2021 – In a rare move, Bunge Limited, a Fortune 500 food production company, is recommending that its shareholders vote in favor of a Green Century° shareholder proposal at its annual meeting Wednesday. This decision comes after Bunge initially planned to issue a letter of opposition. The proposal calls on the company to increase the scale, pace and rigor of its efforts to eliminate native vegetation conversion from its soy supply chain. It will be presented to investors tomorrow at the company’s annual general meeting.
The company has also announced it will produce a report assessing the requests in Green Century’s proposal. However, Green Century and other Bunge investors are urging the food producer to go a step further by committing to concrete changes in its no-deforestation policy. In particular, investors are urging Bunge to only purchase soy from producers that have pledged not to engage in deforestation on their land after 2020.
In March, competitor Archer-Daniels-Midland Company announced a series of changes to its no-deforestation policy that left Bunge a laggard on addressing deforestation in its South American soy supply chain.
“Bunge’s reversal and support of our deforestation proposal is an uncommon and notable first step to becoming a leader in the field,” says Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management. “We hope the company takes advantage of this opportunity by continuing to strengthen its policies on preventing deforestation. In particular, the company should commit to eliminating native vegetation conversion from its soy supply chain. That move would be a win-win as it would reduce its financial and material risk and go a long way to safeguarding priceless natural spaces.”
Soy production is the No. 1 driver of deforestation in the Brazilian Cerrado, a wooded savanna region that is not only home to extensive biodiversity but also sequesters large amounts of carbon – an ecosystem service critical to combating climate change. Bunge’s deforestation risk in Brazil is 51% higher than the closest competitor; the company sources more soy from the Cerrado than from any other region in Brazil. Deforestation risk is a measurement that estimates a company’s risk of exposure to deforestation in its supply chain based on geographical location.
Green Century is the proposal’s lead filer and Storebrand Asset Management, the largest asset manager in Norway, is a co-filer. Storebrand’s CEO Jan Erik Saugestad is presenting the shareholder proposal at Bunge’s annual meeting. A group of investors representing more than $6.3 trillion in assets under management have also raised concerns about the company’s lack of policies to protect the Cerrado and biodiversity.
About Green Century Capital Management
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of March 31, 2021, Bunge Limited comprised 0.00%, 0.06%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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